Paul Collins Fitness at Tuff Enuff 260915 start

When it comes to getting ready for race day or an event you need to be topping up Glycogen and hydration levels so as not to end up hitting the wall or getting cramps.

I tend to drink fluids throughout the day aiming for 2-3 litres of water (herbal/green teas included) if you are a coffee drinker then no more than 2 cups. You are aiming to have your pee a straw colour or clear.

My preference is to eat carbohydrates that are low GI so sweet potatoes are good and porridge or brown rice. Try to avoid fatty foods and alcohol (which acts as a diuretic). If you can tolerate it then look at eating wholemeal pasta with the addition of fish or beans, brown rice with chicken or tofu or Jacket potato with tuna or cottage cheese. Essential mix of protein and carbohydrates.

The day before a race my eating pan might be a little like this; porridge and berries made with rice and almond milk followed by scrambled eggs, mushrooms and spinach. My snacks will be rice cakes and peanut butter or oatcakes and hummus or nut butter. A baked sweet potato for lunch with some form of protein and plenty of salad or greens. Mid afternoon snack a protein shake or homemade energy/protein bar. Dinner might be risotto. You could eat pasta with a tomato based sauces or rice dishes (not a greasy fried rice, Indian or Chinese dish).

Come race day the focus again is on topping up the glycogen level, maintaining blood sugar and staying hydrated.

Through trial and error I prefer to have my main pre-race meal 2-4 hours before, keeping it simple with porridge and fruit made with low fat, rice or almond milk. Toast/bread with honey or jam or low fat yoghurt and fruit. For those of you that tend to get a little too nervous and feel that solid food is not going float your boat then maybe try having a meal replacement drink. Do not under any circumstances turn up with an empty stomach or you will not finish.

Two hours before try and drink 500ml fluid, not an energy drink (by which I mean the sort that give you wings etc.) but you could have a sports drink or make your own version. 15-30 minutes before take on board between 125 and 250ml of liquid. If you intend to have a coffee drink at least 30-60 minutes before hand.

One hour before the event have a smoothie, yoghurt drink, fruit, an energy bar, dried apricots or rice pudding.

At the end of the race be sure to take on board a recovery food/drink, can be a sports drink or protein shake. You could have flapjacks, granola or energy bars (try and make your own), fresh fruit, a sandwich roll or bagel with meat, fish, egg or cheese, or dried fruits and nuts.

To summarise for race day;

Low GI carbs, low fat, low protein, low to moderate fibre, not too bulky or filling, not salty or spicy, easy to digest. Keep it wholesome and real.

Fuel up well and you will have a good race. Neglect this and you will be cold and miserable and want to give up before you have even started.

The training has started in earnest but how best to fuel for the endurance season?

Most people think of endurance as just doing an exercise over a long time/distance. This is true but it is the effect on the body and how it copes with these extremes that can make the difference.

In essence there are two types of endurance muscular and cardiorespiratory.

Muscular endurance is the work of either one muscle or a group of muscles and their ability to maintain a continued force of movement without fatigue.

Cardiorespiratory endurance is based around its ability to pump blood and oxygen to working muscles therefore reducing muscular fatigue whilst allowing for continued performance.

To perform well we need to feed the body large amounts of wholesome nutrients, not only to help with continued performance but also to ensure recovery and good health. Imagine putting diesel into your petrol tank and driving off, it won’t be long before the car splutters and chokes to a standstill (yep I have tried it), the human body is the same. Feed it a low nutrient diet full of processed foods, then push it to the extreme and it’s going to get sick, performance levels will drop, fatigue will set in and recovery will take longer.

We all know that a well-balanced diet consisting of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fat is essential to keep our bodies in shape and to fuel us through daily life. When it comes to athletic performance, we need to take it to the next level.

Endurance athletes, be they weekend warriors or full time athletes need a much higher calorific intake than the average person to cope with the extra energy demands placed upon the body , the main fuel source of which is going to be carbohydrates to ensure glycogen levels are kept at a premium both during training and when competing.

As stated carbs are the main energy sources during endurance events and should not be under estimated. That said, the body can only store a limited supply, therefore the amount of glycogen stored in both the liver and muscles will dictate when fatigue sets in, we all know the term “hitting the wall” when it feels like you just cannot move any further and the body just wants to shut down.

As a general rule carb intake for endurance athletes works out at 5–12 g/per kg bodyweight depending on the amount of time spent training/competing. So carb intake should be 50–65% of their calorie consumption.

It is also essential to consume good quality protein to enhance recovery and maintain muscle. Protein is an essential building block for the body. Intake levels will vary for each individual but as a guideline the recommendation is 1.2–1.4g/ per kg bodyweight although in some cases up to 2g can be of benefit. Again this should be based around the training regime and daily calorific intake of the individual.

This is only a brief look at endurance nutrition, there is so much more that can be said about the role of protein and fats, as for carbohydrates which one is best before, during and after training/event day? What are the different types and how do the affect the body? Way too much for one blog.

If you want to know more or get help training, find me at

www.PaulCollinsFitness.co.uk